Genesis 34
Pulpit Commentary Homiletics
The whole of this miserable story has its place in the development of the kingdom of God. No alliance can be true and safe which is not upon the foundation of the Divine covenants. Circumcision without faith is a mere carnal ordinance, working evil. The sin of Shechem was avenged, but it was avenged by the commission of a greater sin by Simeon and Levi. It was not thus that the kingdom of God was to be spread. "Ye have troubled me," Jacob said. And so have all worldly agencies and methods troubled the true Church. It is better to suffer at the hands of the wicked than to make compromising alliance with them. The worldly Church has filled the world with misery. Abuse of Divine things has been the source of innumerable evils, not only among the people of God, but even in the sphere of men's secular life. But notwithstanding the sin of Simeon and Levi, their prompt execution of the Divine judgment upon the sin of Shechem must have produced a wholesome fear in the country, and connected that fear with moral purity. The sins of unchastity and violation of family rights were monstrously prevalent among the heathen people of Canaan, and it was doubtless ordered that this outbreak of human passion should bear witness for God as the God of purity and the God of households, who blesses the life which is free from the defilement of sensual indulgence, and in which the bonds of relationship and virtuous marriages and the sanctities of home are deeply reverenced. We read afterwards (Genesis 35:5), "the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them." - R.

And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me. It was not merely the fear of retaliation by neighboring tribes. He felt the act was wrong (Genesis 49:5-7); God's blessing could not rest upon it (cf. Psalm 34:7); and he and his family were involved in that wrong (cf. Joshua 7:13; 1 Corinthians 12:26). But was not the anger of Simeon and Levi just? No doubt there was cause, and no doubt a measure of righteous indignation. But

(1) they thought more of the wrong against themselves than of the gin against God (ver. 31).

(2) Their anger was unrestrained by mercy, or even by justice (ver. 25).

(3) It led them into acts of sin - deceit, murder, robbery.

(4) It was soiled by selfish gain (ver. 27). Anger may be right; but need of special, watchfulness (Ephesians 4:26). For under its influence the heart is not in a state fitted to judge; and much danger of self-deception, of mistaking a selfish for a godly anger.


(1) as a protest against wrong;

(2) to deter others from wrong.

But vengeance, retribution, belongs to God (Romans 12:19). He alone has the knowledge to apportion it, looking both to the past and to the future. But anger tempts to retaliation (Matthew 5:38). The wrong fills the mind. Our own errors and acts of wrong (cf. John 8:7), and the plea, Thine anger brings harm to the innocent, are unheeded. The fact that there was cause for anger blinds to its real nature; for unrestrained anger is in truth an offering to self-love. The plea of zeal for right and of godly indignation may seem sincere; but "ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of."

II. A JUST CAUSE FOR ANGER DOES NOT EXCUSE WRONGDOING. God's laws cannot be set aside. And he who takes on himself the office of judge should be especially watchful not to transgress (Psalm 37:3). To do wrong on the plea of doing God's work is to distrust his providential care (Romans 12:19-21). It is to do evil that good may come; a form of being drawn aside by our own lusts (cf. 1 Samuel 24:7; 1 Samuel 26:9). Such acts of wrong are especially evil in Christians. They are "a city set on an hill." Men are ever ready to point to their errors as excusing their own. Men see and judge the act, but cannot estimate the provocation, or, it may be, the sorrow, for a hasty action.

III. WORKS DONE IN ANGER HINDER THE WORK OF THE CHURCH. That work is to draw men together in one (John 17:21). The power by which this is done is love. The love of Christ reflected in us (1 John 4:7). Love wins men's hearts, reason only their minds. And the presence of anger hinders love; not merely in him against whom it is directed; like a stone thrown into still water, it disturbs its surface far and wide.

IV. THE POWER BY WHICH ANGER MUST BE CONTROLLED. Dwelling on the work and example of Christ. He bore all for us. Is not wrath rebuked in the presence of his patience? And if as a "strange work" we are constrained to indignation, must we not watch and pray that no selfish feeling may mingle with it; and, knowing in how many things we offend, that we be "slow to wrath," ready to forgive, and ever "looking unto Jesus"? - M.

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